I am not keen of traveling when it comes to business trip. There are 2 reasons for that, 1. Flying alone- it’s really horrible as I can’t sleep when strangers are around 2. Earning in INR and spending in NIS, USD, GBP or Euros- not a good option.
But still it was my 3rd time in Tel-Aviv for a conference and some business meetings. All my clients met me in the conference and I had 2 complete free days. Coincidentally my boss came with his old American friends. They were freaky travelers, although the couple was above 60 but they covered all the Israel in 5 days. They came with the Israel tourist guide, and knew the history of all the places which never interests me.
So here we started our journey of conquering the Israel. Though I missed some places where I really wanted to go.
So finally, we ( me, my boss and his 2 friends) planned our tour, the day we all landed in Tel-Aviv.
Our first destination was Masada or Metzada-land of first jewish-roman war!!! We started at 6 o’ clock in the morning and it took us around 2.5 hours to reach Masada. There is a LONG history associated with this region. One that I heard was- when Roman attacked Jewish, 1000 Jewish escaped and went to Masada and when Romans found out, they took their troops to attack, Jewish came into conclusion that it’s better to kill themselves instead of being killed by Romans. So they made group of 10 people in each. From 10 one person chosen randomly who has to kill 9 and after that he has to kill himself. And when Romans reached Masada no Jew was alive. All Jews take oath in Masada after joining the army “Masada shall not fall again”.
Though the weather whole day was cloudy but it was hot as it is a desert (Judean Desert). You can reach fort by hiking through snake path or by cable car. Many folks were hiking also but our plans for the day were big, so we preferred cable car.
The view at the top was overwhelming, landscape of deserts was really mesmerizing, the Dead Sea was looking so breathtaking and the Jordan border was so silent.
You will not get anything to eat/ drink in the fort area, so if you are planning to hike, be ready with all your food and drinking stuff.
After Masada we went to Dead Sea, lowest point of earth below sea level. Even you can sense the pressure difference when you start down journey from Jerusalem to Dead Sea. It was my 3rd time to visit Dead Sea; yet again I did not get the chance to float on water. So we just looked around the people, tasted the water which was so salty that it tasted bitter.
We were getting late for Jerusalem, so we just spent half an hour over here.
So here comes Jerusalem-the holy city for 3 regions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jerusalem has been destroyed twice and it’s been divided into old and new Jerusalem. Old Jerusalem is World Heritage site and is also on the list of world heritage site in danger.
We parked our car in the parking lot of Mamilla shopping street. It is our landmark to reach old walls of Jerusalem. There is walking distance of 1-2 minutes to reach “tourist information center” from Mamilla street, and you will get the map to reach the Western Wall, Al Aqsa Mosque and Holy church of Speluchure . It’s around 10 minute walk to reach the western wall. It is the sole remnant of Jewish temple. They have demarcation for men and women prayer areas.
After this we joined the long queue to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque, only visitors and Muslims can enter this area, I think Jewish entry is prohibited (though I am not very sure). There are timings for visitors; you can only enter this area from 1.30 to 2.30 in afternoon if you are non-Muslim. You cannot enter inside but you can roam around in the premises of Mosque and Domb of the Rock.
We just took a quick round, clicked some photograph of the area. If you enter this area you will feel you are visiting some Gulf country, it’s amazingly different from rest of Israel. I was pondering; how Muslims and Jewish are living together in Jerusalem. And Yes, dress up sensibly and cover your body parts else your entry will be prohibited.
This was a long day; at 3 o’clock we had our first meal of the day in the same place where I first tasted Falafel and Hummus. But this time food was not good, Falafel were brittle and salads were bit tangy.
After our brunch meal we took a quick walk to Holy Church of Speluchure. I did not know much about “The Church” before entering. But as soon as you will enter this area you will sense something different, some supernatural power or something spiritual. Though I never felt religious whenever I visit any church but this time I sensed something “out of the world”. On entering I saw a big stone where people were touching some crosses, candles or anything they bought from outside. Then somebody told me that after Crucifixion Jesus Christ was prepared here for burial. This was the Holy Stone of Anointing. People touches thing with the Rock and take them home for Good Luck. I also anointed a cross and took it to my home.
There is door on the left side from where you enter into the Rock of Calvary. There is a rock that can be seen under glass and beneath the altar there is a hole said to be the place where the cross was raised. People write their wishes on the chits and put them in this area. It’s believed that your wishes come true if you put something in writing over here.
After this we entered into the Aedicule area, which is believed to be the tomb of Jesus Christ. It has two rooms; the first holds The Angel’s Stone, a fragment of the stone believed to have sealed the tomb after Jesus’ burial and the second one is the tomb itself. There was a long queue again and we waited approximately for one and half hour to get into the Tomb, but it was worth waiting. It was again out of the world experience.
So this was the whole day, by the time we got free it was 6 o’clock. We just went to parking lot, but guard told us that all parking exits are closed because it was Jerusalem Day and all school folks were on street. So we just went out to see what’s happening outside. Streets were amazingly crowded with school children and everybody was dancing and singing Hebrew songs. Even some rock bands were also there, it was so noisy but still it was captivating and mesmerizing. Though we could not understand the single word but the beats, the whole musicwere fanatabulous. We enjoyed the whole session for two hours.
And finally we got the road clearance and started our journey back to Tel- Aviv. We reached Tel Aviv around 9:45 pm. It was dinner time, so we chose Italian Restaurant- TOTO . We already have been to this place in our previous visits. I really don’t remember what everybody ordered but I ordered Salad which was amazingly pathetic, but still I ate all as I had Red Wine to curb the taste of salad. Though I never relished Italian food but lately I have discovered that I am developing new taste bud to start liking Italian food.
So all together it was a BIG TIME FUN DAY in Israel. So many things, so many places just in a single day.
P.S.-I am not a good photographer, so please bear with all the clicks…
Special Thanks to Shikha Sharma for the Guest Post 🙂